Have you seen me?

newman

Paul Newman founded the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for children stricken with cancer, AIDS, and blood diseases. One afternoon, he and his wife, Joanne Woodward, stopped by to have lunch with the kids.

A counselor at a nearby table, suspecting the young patients wouldn’t know Newman was a famous movie star, explained, “That’s the man who made this camp possible. Maybe you’ve seen his picture on his salad dressing bottle?”

Nothing but blank stares.

“Well, you’ve probably seen his face on his lemonade carton.”

An eight-year-old girl perked up. “How long was he missing?”


I had to smile when I read this story and I can only imagine how much Paul Newman and his wife were laughing about it.

milk_cartons_lg

I remember the missing children’s faces on the milk cartons and always thought it was a marvelous idea. Then the faces on the pizza boxes and milk cartons disappeared and I was always wondering why.

Two years ago I was on my way to my workroom. I had some cookies in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, when the TV got my attention and what I heard made my neck hair stand up. I didn’t walk any further. I turned the TV up and sat down in our living room and listen to the news in absolute disbelieve. Maybe because we live in Ohio, maybe that’s why it hit home so much and knocked me off my feet.

I listened to the news reporter as he explained how the 3 missing girls had been found, in a house in Cleveland. The house was not somewhere in the bunnies, far away from any population, no, it was a in normal street, with normal houses in a working class neighborhood.

I heard the names of the young women, names that I will never forget. Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina deJesus. It wasn’t just me, the whole nation was shocked and the news was shared all around the world.

Cleveland girls

I followed the story for quite some time and I realized for the first time, that I didn’t know a single name of a missing person. I didn’t know a name or a picture and I felt terrible about it.

I heard the story about the waitress, who recognized a missing child and could call the police during her shift and the kid was freed. It made me shiver inside, because I realized I wouldn’t recall a name or a face, because I don’t see them anymore.

That night they changed the regular TV program and an missing persons special was broadcasted instead. I watched it; I watched the whole program until the very end.

Something about the young women in Cleveland had struck a core in me and it didn’t leave me alone. I made up my mind that I would buy the book, if they would write one. I would buy the book, even though I would be hard to read, because I thought their story had to be told, they deserved to be heard. I also made up my mind that I had to look at missing persons pictures on a regular base.

That was then. Now its two years later and I just finished Michelle’s Knight’s book “Finding me”. In the middle of the book I realized that once again, I didn’t know a name or a face of a missing child or a missing adult. I felt ashamed, only two years later there was nothing left of my good intentions. The TV shows have stopped and only a few places show posters and pictures of missing persons these days.

The faces on milk cartons and pizza boxes are long gone. I wanted to know why and started to research it a little bit.

In the 1970s, many police departments were hesitant to intervene when noncustodial parents took off with their children. They viewed the incidents as domestic disagreements rather than as true kidnappings. Frustrated custodial parents launched a movement to combat the problem, giving the crime a name: child snatching. Advocacy groups distributed pamphlets containing pictures of snatched children to principals and schoolteachers, because the noncustodial parent often enrolled the child in a new school under a different name.

Advocates broadened their campaign in the early 1980s to include all missing children. A handful of high-profile kidnappings had terrified the public: Etan Patz went missing in 1979, and Adam Walsh—the child of now-famous crime fighter John Walsh—was abducted and murdered in 1981. By including runaways in their estimates, advocates were able to claim that hundreds of thousands of children went missing every year. 

A few dairies began to place pictures of missing children on milk cartons in 1984. Missing children appeared on pizza boxes, grocery bags, and junk mail envelopes alongside the question, “Have you seen me?” The milk carton campaign was probably the most visible aspect of the movement—by 1985, 700 of the nation’s 1,800 independent dairies had adopted the practice. Though a few informants told police they recognized a child from a gallon of milk, there is no data on how many children were saved by the milk cartons.

Sadly in the late 80’s pediatricians worried that children would be frightened by the pictures and that was the end of it.

I don’t want to sound cruel, but I think it’s not a bad thing if a child gets frightened by the picture of a missing child it’s own age. This world is not a safe place and children need to know. Many children are abducted by people they know and candy, puppies and stuffed animals are used as bait.

The pictures on the milk cartons brought awareness to the missing children. These days, almost everything is done online and there are many websites with pictures of missing children and missing adults.

I wish there would be more awareness. I believe visualization like the faces on the milk cartons is missing these days. But maybe that’s just me and my thinking~!

This time I will keep the promise I made myself. I will look at missing person’s pictures, especially the ones of children, on a regular base.

I think we all should~!

photo 3


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24 thoughts on “Have you seen me?

  1. I think the milk carton project was a great idea. You can talk to your children about this subject, but when they see a face, I believe it becomes more real to them. I live in Florida and when I buy gas at one of the gas stations around her there is a picture on the pump screen in reference to an Amber Alert child ….this is great….imagine how many people stand there waiting for their tank to fill up and looking at a picture on the pump video. Great posting! 🙂

  2. A child being frightened is a lesser evil. It is important that they are fully aware of what is happening around them. It makes them careful. I sometimes think that these psychologists do a lot more harm than good 😕

  3. I’m a prolific user of Facebook and I’ve seen Amber Alerts cover all kinds of missing children — that includes all races and genders, from infants to teenagers. Amber Alerts spread fast and can cover amazing distances on social media. I often check the veracity of any Amber Alert that comes across my Facebook because some are weeks, months and even years old. I also get them on my smart phone as a text message, and again, they cover any missing child in the area, no matter the race or gender — from infant to teenager. People want these children found. The ones that come on my phone are always relevant and I am “on the alert” for the missing child and any car or adult that’s mentioned.

    So I guess what I’m saying is that Amber Alerts, social media, and smart phones have replaced milk cartons and pizza boxes.

    • I don’t do facebook and I am not the only one, there are still people out there who don’t participate in the social media circus, actually more than you think.

      I love the amber alert, it’s here on TV on the radio right away, however nothing is showed anymore after a few days and weeks.
      The children on the milk cartons, those were often “cold cases” abductions that had happened a while back.
      So I strongly disagree with you.

      • No, I know that there are thousands, if not millions of people who don’t participate the “social media circus”. I understand that. But again, as I mentioned, sometimes the missing person alerts I get on Facebook are years old. So the cases have gotten cold. It still works. And, you’re here on WordPress, which is somewhat of a social thing. Nothing prevents people from posting “missing persons” on a blog. I’m sure there are blogs devoted to nothing but that. Hold on, let me look…

        http://www.missingpersonsofamerica.com/

      • The missing girls in Cleveland made me wonder about how many more there are hidden somewhere since years in the middle of our normal lives.

        Cleveland was too close to home, we only live a couple of hours away.

        I stop now at stores and look at the flyers, I stop at the stores and look at he missing persons posters. One of the girls, Michelle Knight, was an adult when she was kidnapped…nobody looked for her in all those years. Scary..really scary.
        I think I have my eyes more open now..if that makes any sense.
        I hate that there was a TV show only when it happened. Why can’t there be a show on a regular base?

      • The sad fact is that too many people go missing, and there aren’t enough resources to look for each and every one of them.

        And adults aren’t looked for as much as kids because adults can disappear for myriad reasons that aren’t sinister, while children often don’t disappear on their own.

        I’m not saying this is right and just, I’m simply saying this is the way it is. But I also want to say that people do care, and word does spread, if you know where to look *cough* Facebook *cough*. And the fliers in the store are a good start too. Television shows are expensive, as are books, so producing, publishing a show/book about every missing person would be prohibitive. They used to have “America’s Most Wanted” but I think that the advent of the Internet killed it.

      • I think Facebook is a scary medium, I think it’s dumbing people down (not you). Too many wrong and poorly researched “infos” get shared over and over.
        Facebook is for many nothing, than a modern version of gossip and people don’t care about the actual topics.
        I think people have never been more lonely than they are these days. Hundreds of friends on a social media page don’t make up for one good friend that you have in real life.

        I think it broke my heart when I read Michelle Knight’s book, when she says “I knew nobody was looking for me, but they were looking for Gina and Amanda”. I can’t even imagine how bad she must have felt.
        Adults go missing too. Sex trafficking, human trafficking…we have a lot of problems that need to be solved and we don’t even try.
        Is money an issue, I suppose it is.
        I don’t have the answers, I just wish we would cover all our sources and use them wisely.

      • You’re right in that a lot of people use Facebook for loose connections and to fill that space where people used to go out and make face to face connections, but there are a lot of people like myself who only have friends and family on their Facebook. My privacy settings are so high that you cannot search for me and find me. I have to give someone the link to my page for them to find me. I’m not alone in that. It’s a good medium for keeping in touch with far flung friends and family.

        Like you, I don’t have the answers for missing people, but I do know from my experience on social media that people do care and that the information is being spread. Even before Facebook, I would get emails about missing persons from well-meaning co-workers and friends and family. Even then, they were not always researched and I’d to a quick google before I send the email to my friends and other family members.

        What I’m saying is that people do care. They do try, even if they don’t bother to check if the information is correct, their knee-jerk reaction is, “This is awful, this person is missing! I must spread the news!” That was true in the days of email, and it’s true now, in the days of social media (it just gets spread faster these days).

        BTW, have you ever read the book “Bowling Alone”? It explains how America at lease became a lonely society. It’s a bit dated, but still an interesting read.

      • I heard about the book and read articles about it -although the reviews, but haven’t read it. America is an island, more and more isolated from the world. I said that 30 years ago and it’s now more true than ever before. The disconnection with the rest of the world shocked me the most when I moved here.
        I just put the book on my wish list.

    • To clarify… I check to see if the person on the Amber Alerts that come across my Facebook has been found. Sometimes they have, but people are still spreading the news that they are lost. ^_^ it happens a lot on social media, people often just pass things along without checking the source.

  4. I’ve thought about this before, too. Amber alerts have become a good service for missing children, but the thing that always sticks in my craw is that most of the time these kids are white. There is such a discrepancy in the number of children missing and how many of them get publicized. THAT needs to be fixed as well.

  5. I don’t know what I think about this. Garry covered so many of these stories over the years and they almost all ended in tragedy. There has been a lot of local tragedy recently and we do know the names and faces. I’m not sure that’s an improvement.

    • I didn’t know the names of any, not for a few years. I don’t go to Walmart and no other store here , where I live has flyers anymore. The Cleveland rescue of the kidnapped girls changed my thinking.
      I always thought the milk carton project was genius and I am glad that other countries still do it.

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